I remember back in business school reading a statistic that 93% of people make purchase decisions based on colors and visual attributes of a business. Even though I can’t remember the name of the book I read it in, the statistic itself always stuck with me. When I launched my first business, I knew that the look and feel of the colors and logo I chose along with the context of the story I was telling about my product would greatly influence whether or not someone chose to do business with me. So, despite the fact that I wasn’t super artistic, I was very intentional about selecting the colors that would represent my brand.
Whether you are looking to brand yourself or a business, and whether you’ve been in business a while or are just getting started, getting the right visual look in place can make you feel super proud of what you are doing and can attract the right clients to you. Here are three things to take into consideration as you establish the colors for your brand.
1. Colors have meaning
There are loads of information out there about the psychology of color and how even a subtle shift in the tint (a color mixed with white), tone (a color mixed with gray), or shade (a color mixed with black) can impact the message you convey. Studies have shown that business colors are most effective when a potential customer believes that the color is a good fit for the company. The challenge with this is colors don’t have a uniform meaning. Different cultures, experiences, and contexts can give a different meaning to the same or similar colors. However, here are some general rules when it comes to color psychology to help you get started:
Reds arouse strong emotions, intensity, and passion. Reds are an action-oriented color family and also encourage appetite and appeal to a sense of urgency. Reds excite and motivate, but in excess, they can cause anxiety and weariness. Some sensitive people see red as a harsh color.
Yellows, in general, give a cheery and warm feeling and often appeal to youthfulness, an upbeat outlook, and self-esteem. Yellows are generally attention-grabbers and stimulate thinking and mental processes. When overdone, yellows can cause strain on the eyes.
Blues are the most common color family that show up in businesses and logos—and no surprise as it has been shown to increase productivity and it is most-often perceived as a non-invasive, peaceful color. Blues appeal to communication, honesty, loyalty, and self-expression and evoke a sense of trust in a brand.
Orange is a secondary color that often is used to represent warmth, excitement, confidence, and enthusiasm. It appeals to extroverts and risk-takers in a fun and vibrant way. On the flip side, it can also indicate aggression and is often used for warnings or caution. Orange appeals to creativity and pleasure and is often used as a call to action, but when overdone can suggest cheapness.
Green is the second most commonly used color family in business. It appeals to new life, renewal, growth and vitality. In many cases, green is used to represent health, peace, nature, growth, and wealth and encourages kindness and generosity. Greens evoke a relaxed feeling. However, too much green can suggest greed and over-cautiousness.
Purple has long been associated with wealth, wisdom, and royalty. It appeals to spiritual connectedness, transcendence, creativity, and imagination. Purples are often used to soothe or calm and are associated with a sense of beauty. When not properly balanced, purples can suggest arrogance or aloofness.
2. You need primary, accent, and supporting colors
When selecting colors, most designers suggest picking a pallet of three to six colors which will include your primary colors, your accent colors, and your supporting colors. Your primary colors will provide the bulk of the visual impact for your company. Your accent colors will be used sparingly to reinforce your primary colors and draw attention where necessary. Your supporting colors are going to be your neutrals such as white, ivory, light gray, or dark gray that give depth to your look.
When you select your colors, be sure they represent the personality of your brand. For example, take a look at these two snapshots from the Growth Advance Brand Book:
With our primary colors, you see the reference to the “Hero” and “Explorer” aspects of our brand. These colors tie directly to our brand’s personality type and serve to connect with our community.
When picking your colors, find a primary color you like best and use a tool such as Coolors to find accenting and supporting colors.
3. Get outside eyes (wisely)
When building your brand’s image, it’s helpful to have a set (multiple sets, really) of trusted outside eyes to take a look and offer helpful feedback. But there are definitely good ways to do this—and not-so-good ways. Avoid asking people you know to be negative and critical for feedback. For example, going to your uncle who keeps asking you when you’re going to quit your business and get a real job is not a good idea. Asking for feedback from other business owners who you’ve met at networking events who are also building their own brands is a better way to go.
Remember though, not everyone likes every color, but everyone has an opinion about pretty much everything, so trust your gut, but take the feedback you receive and look for common themes. If more than a handful of people are telling you the same thing, you might want to pay attention to that and ensure that the impression you are creating is the one you want to give.
There’s no doubt that the colors and overall image of your brand play a huge role in the success (or lack thereof) of your brand. Your brand tells the story of your business, products, and services, and it invites people to do business with you. As you are selecting your colors, be sure that they fit the context of who your brand is and what your brand is doing in the world because the brands whose look matches their story are the brands that are the most successful.
Any questions about your brand image? Want feedback on your colors? Simply post in the comments below. Or, already have colors you love? We invite you to share below and tell us why you picked those colors for your brand.